Texas Governor Implements New Law, Loses Women’s Health Program
Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas is responsible for losing 90% of the funding for the Women’s Health Program, following a bill that discriminates against clinics that also offer abortions. This appears to be yet another move by conservative Republicans to fight against funding for clinics like Planned Parenthood, even though government funding is not used for abortions at the clinic. Safe to say that the women of Texas, who have taken to the streets with “Don’t mess with Texas women” signs, are outraged.
Government funding for the Women’s Health Program (which costs $40 million in Texas) allows low-income women to get cancer screenings, contraception, and basic health care. The bill, which went into effect on Wednesday, disqualified Planned Parenthood from the WHP, because some of its clinics offer abortions. Unfortunately for the Texas Government, the Department for Health and Human Services considers Planned Parenthood a qualified family planning providers, and they also treat about 44% of the program’s current 130,000 patients.
Cindy Mann, director of the Center for Medicaid and State Operations (CMSO), said in her letter to Texas health officials that:
“We very much regret the state’s decision to implement this rule, which will prevent women enrolled in the program from receiving services from the trusted health care providers they have chosen and relied upon for their care…in light of Texas’ actions, CMS is not in a position to extend or renew the current [Medicaid contract].”
This discrimination against places like Planned Parenthood, breaks the federal Medicaid rules, because the provider qualifies for the federal program, per Medicaid law. It is unclear what this means for the future of the Women’s Health Program of Texas, although Governor Perry did comment that he would work to get state funding for it (although he has yet to reveal his plan). He even wrote a letter to President Obama earlier this month, accusing the administration of “mandating which health providers the state of Texas must use” so that they must “continue to support abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.”
What Governor Rick Perry fails to recognize is that it is not the Obama administration’s fault that Texas is losing it’s funding, but the fault of Texas lawmakers like him. An HHS spokesperson stated in response to Perry’s letter:
“Medicaid law is very clear; a state may not restrict patients’ choice of providers of services like mammograms and other cancer screenings, if those providers are qualified to deliver care covered by Medicaid. Patients, not state government officials, should be able to choose the doctors and other health care providers that are best for them and their families. In 2005, Texas requested this same authority to restrict patients’ choices, and the Bush Administration did not grant it to them either.”
What do you think of Governor Perry’s decision to discriminate against places like Planned Parenthood?
Check out Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards’ response to the Texas Governor: